Looking for a hip way to start your season? Visit Spitalfields on the 29th of November for 'A Merry Different Christmas' - a few things you'd expect (mulled wine and music), a lot you wouldn't, and a great chance to shop OFF the high street.
The alt.Christmas evening includes a Christmas Disco, an Alternative Christmas Confession Booth, and a single, eco-friendly Christmas light.
And lots of mulled wine, of course.
But we want to talk about the shopping.
The people with shops and stalls at Spitalfields have a passion for their goods. They've hand-selected them, and in many cases have even designed and made them, and the quality is far better than you'd find at (enter generic high street shop here) or (big chain store here).
The other benefit to shopping this way is that the gifts you give (or indeed find for yourself) are unique. You can be sure your mother/brother/cousin/best friend/boss won't already be in possession of the treat you've carefully (or recklessly) selected for them.
And while you're there, pick up a copy of the Quirky Shopping Guide - London Eastside. It's nicely split up by colour-coded store type - Fashion, Food, Furniture, Gifts, etc. - and includes boutique and indie retailers.
(You can also download it here.)
Our favourites include:
Timothy Everest (E1)
Tailor to David Beckham and Tom Cruise
Bob and Blossom (E2)
Irresistable baby gifts
Taylor & Taylor (E1)
Delectable hair & beauty boudoir
So this year skip Molton Brown, the Gap and Urban Outfitters, and get yourself to the real roots of shopping.